Newsletter Volume 2

IBU - Fri, 11/20/2015 - 09:42
Categories: Unions

What’s outrageous? Unpaid wages! Report from solidarity demo

IWW - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 14:38

By Communications Officer - Bristol IWW, November 14, 2015

Fellow Wobblies and supporters, Bristol Communications Officer here to report on the wet but very successful solidarity demo held this morning in Bristol outside Cafe Amore!

We organised the demo in solidarity with Fellow Worker Bonny, who worked at Cafe Amore for a while and was not paid the full wages she was owed after quitting. Bristol IWW union representative assisted her in writing a demand letter to the cafe’s boss, which Bonny then delivered by hand a week ago accompanied by fellow Wobblies. During the week, the boss paid her some of the money she was owed but not all of it, and didn’t provide a clear explanation as to why he couldn’t pay the whole amount, and when he would do so.

So, on we went this Saturday to hold a solidarity demo demanding the cafe’s boss to pay Bonny her wages, as well as to highlight the bad practices that Cafe Amore use on their staff – unpaid trials, underpaying migrant staff, and forced unpaid overtime. Despite the relentless rain, we had a very successful demonstration attended by around 30 people, with many members and supporters of the IWW, and members of Bristol SolNet.

Before the start of the demo, Bonny went in the cafe accompanied by her union rep and other members of the IWW to renew her demand and hand out flyers to customers. The boss was very aggressive towards them, making excuses as to why he hadn’t been able to pay Bonny’s full wages, and being very vague as to when he would pay her the remaining amount. He then went on to tell another IWW member who was trying to talk to customers to “get out of here or I’ll beat you up” in front of all the customers.

We stood outside the cafe for an hour, handing out flyers and singing songs in support of Bonny, and having lots of fun Wobbly-style! Lots of passers-by stopped to ask us what was going on and expressed interest and support for Bonny and what we were doing. But, Cafe Amore’s boss still hasn’t paid Bonny all the money she’s owed! Bristol IWW will carry on holding weekly solidarity demos outside Cafe Amore until Bonny’s paid up all the money she’s owed. Keep checking our blog and, especially, our Facebook page and Twitter feed (links on the right) and, if Bonny still doesn’t get paid, see you on Saturday 21 November at 12pm outside Cafe Amore (which is on Nelson Street, next to Holland & Barrett). Or, as we put it today in our chants: Pay Bonny her money and we’ll go away / Pay Bonny her money or we’re here to stay!

Do you also work in the bar & hospitality sector – bars, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, catering, etc? Does any of this sound familiar to you? The IWW has just launched a campaign to support and organise workers in these businesses. You can read our statement here: statement. We have also written an article on local paper “The Bristol Cable” highlighting the issues of bar & hospitality workers in Bristol. You can read it here: article.

If Bonny’s situation sounds familiar to you, and you need help and support to stand up to bully bosses who don’t pay wages and treat their workers like doormats, email us at bristol@iww.org.uk

We are a grassroots union that uses direct action methods to support workers to fight back for their rights. This is what we can offer you: training to know Employment Law and (where possible) use it to get what you want; training to represent your Fellow Workers in grievance and disciplinary meetings; training to organise your co-workers so you can speak as one voice, and get more influence over what goes on at work; and, finally, TRAINING TO WIN – better terms and conditions, better pay, and less bullying from your boss!

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Categories: Unions

Concrete examples of non labour relations board unions: Part III

IWW - Thu, 11/19/2015 - 14:28

By Phinneas Gage - Recomposition, November 6, 2015

This is the third part of a series of concrete examples (Part IPart II) and very brief summaries of organizations that have some component of direct action and a form of collective bargaining that operate outside the labour relations framework. The following examples are from the IWWs organising efforts in food service. This includes fast food as well as grocery stores in a lot of the examples the IWW actually engaged in innovative organising that broke ground in more high profile campaigns like the well known “Fight for Fifteen” campaigns around raising the minimum wage in the USA.

4. The IWW in Food Service

a). The Jimmy John’s Workers Union

The Jimmy John’s Workers Union started as an effort by the Twin Cities General Membership Branch of the IWW to organise in Fast Food. The campaign at it’s height had shop committees in multiple shops and a city wide committee. Ultimately, the campaign made a decision to go for an NLRB election and only failed by two votes with 85 in favour and 87 against. After that point the campaign went into steep decline but the organisers still managed to create an impressive track record of gains for themselves and their co-workers including: reversing decisions by management to fire people, addressing health and safety concerns for delivery drivers, tips jars, a city wide pay raise, and scheduling issues as well as countless smaller individual grievances in their shops. There is still an underground IWW presence in many shops across the USA and a very public campaign in Baltimore.

Advantages: Large numbers of workers mobilised. A city wide organisation spanning at all ten shops in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota) at its height. Coordination through city wide mass meetings. The media work on this campaign was impressive including making the New York Times. Impressive gains before, during, and after the failed certification election.

Disadvantages: Campaign wasn’t merely oriented towards a youth counter culture, it celebrated it and was itself a function of it. Substance abuse on the campaign was a major issue and led to key organisers putting their jobs at risk and getting injured unnecessarily. Logistically it was very lax with campaign data, mostly being kept in the personal notebooks of key organisers. Many organisers were also goal oriented to the point of certification becoming an all or nothing proposition and the campaign slowly contracted as key people moved on to other projects after the certification campaign failed, despite efforts to downplay the legal process by some organisers. As well the ability to join the JJWU campaign but not the IWW also created a tiered membership that made it ambiguous as to who was actually a member and difficult to consolidate membership beyond just the shop. Ultimately failed to bridge some of the demographic divides in the industry.

What happened?
There is still an underground IWW presence in some shops across the USA and a very public campaign in Baltimore. After the certification election six key organisers were fired over a publicity stunt involving a fight for sick days and the NLRB process is now on its last appeal several years later. The campaign is an impressive achievement for an all volunteer union on a shoe string budget.

b). The Starbucks Workers Union

Where the Jimmy John’s Workers Union in the Twin Cities peaked at a failed certification election the Starbucks Workers Union really got going after a failed attempt at certification. In 2003 wobblies started organising at a Starbucks in Manhattan. In 2004 they tried for a union certification election. The National Labour Relations Board defined their bargaining unit as every Starbucks in Manhattan. which for an organising committee of only a handful became unfeasible as it would include hundreds of workers. So the campaign chose to continue outside of the recognition framework. Since that time over a decade ago the SWU has ran campaigns in dozens of cities going public in towns like New York, Chicago, Quebec, Minneapolis and Dallas. Countless underground committees have pushed back against management to rack up impressive wins like: changes to scheduling practices, enforcing the right to take bathroom breaks, winning a two dollar an hour raise for all Starbucks workers in New York, and improvements to health and safety. Perhaps their greatest achievement was winning Martin Luther King Day as a paid day off in the USA for all Starbucks workers, many of whom are African American. The union has also won countless small victories overturning discipline, fighting against sexual harassment and discrimination at work and extending international solidarity to Baristas in Chile. The union has made national press several times and has won several labour relations board rulings cementing some legal recourse to unions that exist outside the contract and certification process.

Advantages: Extremely fluid organisation allowed for rapid expansion to other cities and shops without too much red tape. The campaign can coordinate demands over multiple cities and countries. Strong emphasis on direct action, the campaign has repeatedly avoided certification elections since the initial defeat in New York and has since developed a strong practice of shop floor unionism.

Disadvantages: Like other IWW efforts in Fast Food the campaign suffers from a high turnover in their workforce and all the problems that come from that. The campaign was logistically lax at some points but fairly strong at others. Part of their very fluid structure made creating democratic structures and decision making difficult. The campaign also had a tendency to go public with a small minority in the shop. Part of this was due to a reliance, probably an over reliance, on media tactics. These strategic decisions put a tremendous amount of strain on key personalities and also create problems as far as giving credit to other people, creating an investment on the part of the less high profile activists, and bringing constant scrutiny and attention from management. Also when the Quebec wobblies joined the SWU from an already existing union formation things quickly fell apart due to differing emphases on direct action and a greater reliance on certification votes (which failed) in Canada. Ultimately the organisers quit en mass and called it direct action.

What happened?
The IWW still has organising activity at Starbucks stores all over North America and a public presence in New York that is going on twelve years this year.

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Categories: Unions

Press Release

IBU - Tue, 11/17/2015 - 21:40
Categories: Unions

Labor Politics

IBU - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 23:23
Categories: Unions

PSR Fleet Memo for November 14 2015

IBU - Mon, 11/16/2015 - 15:26
Categories: Unions

Can “solidarity unionism” save the labor movement?

IWW - Sun, 11/08/2015 - 11:56

By Eric Dirnbach - Waging Nonviolence, November 4, 2015

The debate on how to revive the troubled U.S. labor movement has been around for decades. Labor activists generally believe that much greater rank-and-file democracy and workplace militancy is the key to labor renewal. However, an essential perspective that is usually missing from the conversation is well represented by Staughton Lynd’s “Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below,” which was first published in 1992 and has been recently reissued.

Lynd is a legendary progressive lawyer and activist from Youngstown, Ohio. He is the coauthor with his wife Alice Lynd of the classic “Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers,” a collection of oral histories of militant union organizers, which informs much of the framework of “Solidarity Unionism.” At around 100 pages, the book reads more like a summary of his organizing philosophy, and many readers will come away wanting a more extensive discussion. It should be read along with several other recent books which make similar arguments: Stanley Aronowitz’s “The Death and Life of American Labor: Toward a New Workers’ Movement,” and “New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class-Struggle Unionism,” edited by Immanuel Ness, who also provided the introduction for “Solidarity Unionism.”

Lynd argues for a rethinking of the assumptions of the labor movement and for a revived version of labor organizing that was more prominent in the pre-New Deal era that he calls “solidarity unionism.” What may surprise most labor-oriented readers is that central to this kind of unionism is the absence of a contract between the union and the employer.

Isn’t the whole point of forming a union to get a written collective bargaining agreement? Lynd doesn’t think so and he argues that workers fighting together with direct action on the job to make improvements in the workplace do not need a contract and may be hurt by having one. He is critical of the “management rights” and “no-strike” clauses that are standard in almost all union contracts. He believes they reduce the power of workers to influence major decisions in how the workplace is run and to solve their problems at work immediately as they arise. Contracts tend to remove agency from the workers and place it in the hands of union staff who typically bargain and process grievances while the members may be uninvolved and cynical. Lynd is also skeptical of a union’s exclusive representation of all workers in the workplace and automatic dues check-off, preferring for workers to actively join the union and pay dues because they want to.

Lynd’s view of the prevailing “contract unionism” differs from standard labor history, which considers the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA, labor reforms as a progressive advance for workers. In the mainstream view, workers organizing, with the support of President Roosevelt, finally won full government enforcement for the right to organize and bargain collectively. In exercising this right, unions typically hold workplace elections and then negotiate contracts with employers that set the conditions of employment and also guarantee labor peace (no strike/no lockout) for the term of the contract. This industrial relations framework led the way for millions of workers to organize and improve their wages and working conditions. This “class compromise” held for several decades until employers changed their mind and increased their opposition to unionization again.

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Categories: Unions

Wobbling to Victory: Are militant unions anarchist wreckers or the future of the labour movement?

IWW - Sun, 11/08/2015 - 11:23

By Dek Keenan - Union Solidarity International, November 5, 2015

In recent years, new or rediscovered forms of worker self-organisation have begun to appear – and often in the most unlikely of places.

Small independent unions, using a combination of often audacious direct action tactics combined with innovative campaign strategies are bringing victories to some of the most marginalised and precarious groups of workers. Punching way above their weight, these dynamic new (and some not so new) unions are fighting to win and organising with few or no full-time officials and on shoestring budgets.

Are they the work of anarchist wreckers, alien to the traditions of the labour movement, or do they offer a way out of the impasse that our movement finds itself in?

In London, new unions such as the United Voices of the World (UVW) and Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) have been at the forefront of precarious, out-sourced and greatly migrant labour struggles. Recent high profile fights for the Living Wage, for sick pay and the reinstatement of union activists at the Barbican and at Sotheby’s auction house have brought the UVW into the media spotlight.

The first signs in the UK of this ‘new unionism’ were seen in 2011 when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the famous ‘Wobblies’, organised a Branch for cleaners in London, recruiting dissatisfied members of Unite associated with the Latin American Workers Association (LAWA).

This Branch built on the existing community of solidarity in the LAWA and, through the establishment of workers’ advice clinics, language classes and much aggressive outreach by unpaid activists, expanded beyond the Latin American community to other groups of cleaners searching for an effective voice at work. London Living Wage victories at Canary Wharf and elsewhere followed, heightening the profile of the IWW and paving the way for subsequent initiatives from the UVW and IWGB.

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Categories: Unions

Organizing the Choke Points

IWW - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 10:55

By Joe Allen - Jacobin, November 3, 2015

It took the United Parcel Service one hundred and eight years to get to its current position in the world today, less than half that time for Walmart, DHL, and FedEx, and just over two decades for Amazon. The speed of transformation in the global logistics industry is rapidly increasing, spurred on by Amazon’s current building spree across North America and Europe.

For example, according to Business Insider,

Amazon has added 21 new logistics facilities globally over the last 12 months, up 14% from last year, bringing the total to 173 facilities worldwide. Of the 173 facilities, 104 are in the North America region, with the rest spread across Europe and Asia. The 173 logistics facilities include the large fulfillment-center warehouse; sortation centers, where packages get presorted for shipping; and Prime Now hub, a separate building to store one-hour delivery items.

Clearly big things are afoot. Amazon’s recent job listing strongly suggests it is building a senior staff for a major logistics and transportation department that includes a “Senior Program Manager — Last Mile Transportation SME,” “Driver Experience Manager,” and “Network Manager — Amazon Logistics Freight.” A former Amazon engineer told Business Insider, “If Amazon can stop paying FedEx and start controlling their own destiny in terms of the costs of fulfillment and shipping and transportation, it increases their profit margin.”

Another sign of the rapidly transforming logistics industry is UPS’s recent purchase of the Chicago-based Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion. Coyote is a new model of freight forwarding; it has no vehicles or warehouses of its own, and instead provides logistics for 12,000 shippers with a network of 35,000 local, regional, and national carriers.

A decade earlier UPS made its largest acquisition up to that point when it bought Overnite Transportation, a huge non-union freight company. UPS’s purchase of Overnite was a major move into the traditional freight business, and followed FedEx’s acquisition of several regional freight companies and creation of FedEx Freight.

FedEx is also trying to keep up with the competitive pressures from Amazon and UPS. Earlier this year it acquired the Dutch parcel-delivery company TNT Express for $4.8 billion — giving it access to TNT’s Europe-wide road network to compete with UPS and DHL — and FedEx Ground has announced plans to build large facilities in Middleton, CT; Ocala, FL; and Hamburg, NY.

DHL — formally DHL Express, a division of Deutsche Post — is also reinvesting substantially in its US operations, including a $108 million upgrade to its Cincinnati air hub that processes about 46 million international shipments each year. Though it is smaller than UPS’s nearby Worldport or FedEx’s Superhub, DHL’s Cincinnati operations primarily focus on international shipments from Asia and Europe.

“If DHL is making investments in infrastructure expansion in Cincinnati, that means they’re very confident that they’re going to continue to grow their intercontinental network,” says Brian Clancy, a managing director with Logistics Capital & Strategy, a Virginia-based transportation consulting firm.

Meanwhile, DHL Global Forwarding signed an agreement with a Kazakhstan-based express company to speed the transit of rail-based freight across the Eurasian continent as an alternative to traditional sea and airfreight. In addition, it announced plans to establish its own parcel network in Austria by 2016 and to invest €47 million in sub-Saharan Africa as part of an effort to derive 30 percent of its revenue from emerging markets by 2020.

Not to be left out of the scramble, the United States Postal Service (USPS), the venerable, much-derided, and constitutionally mandated mail carrier, has emerged as a major player in the logistics industry.

This summer, Bloomberg Businessweek called the USPS “an extension of Amazon” and noted that “Amazon receives a deep discount from the post office because the e-tailer does so much of its own processing — including providing computerized address lists to make it easier for carriers to tailor their delivery routes for faster drop-offs.” A 2014 estimate by Bernstein Research, which tracks the shipping industry, put the USPS’s shipments and deliveries at 40 percent of Amazon’s volume, or almost 150 million items (UPS accounted for 20–25 percent and FedEx 15–20 percent).

While UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the USPS are fierce competitors, many people would be surprised by the cooperation between the logistics giants. Both FedEx and UPS have discounted residential package delivery services with the USPS called, respectively, SmartPost and SurePost. And the volume is enormous. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported:

For FedEx alone, the post office delivers an average of 2.2 million packages a day, or about 30% of the express-mail company’s total U.S. ground segment. UPS won’t specify how many of its shipments go through the post office, but a regulatory filing indicates those types of lightweight shipments accounted for 40% — or about 37 million packages — of its total increase in ground shipments in 2012.

Both SmartPost and SurePost services are designed to deal with the unwanted costs of the “last mile” — the industry term for the final step in the delivery process, handing over the package to the recipient. FedEx or UPS may have every address in the United States in their databases, but neither wants to go to every address every day, and they certainly don’t want to make a second attempt if the recipient isn’t home the first time around. The USPS, on the other hand, has to go to each address daily to delivery first-class mail.

Ultimately, UPS and FedEx want to snatch up the most profitable areas and dump the rest. For example, FedEx beat out UPS in 2013 for a seven-year, $10.5 billion contract with the USPS to fly its mail between US airports.

The rising volume of packages has transformed the USPS, necessitating major capital investment. In 2013, the post office spent $200 million to furnish its delivery vehicles with handheld scanners to provide real-time package tracking. And its plan to replace its fleet of 163,000 delivery trucks, which were not designed to hold packages, could cost as much as $4.5 billion.

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Categories: Unions

Victory as People Power Forces Liverpool Council Homeless Fines U-Turn

IWW - Sat, 11/07/2015 - 10:48

By Admin - Liverpool IWW, November 5, 2015

Liverpool Industrial Workers of the World unreservedly welcomes the sensational decision of Liverpool City Council to scrap their consultation on plans to fine the homeless a whole eight days ahead of its planned conclusion. We are delighted that homeless people now no longer face this added threat of being penalised for the social crime of homelessness.

Like Oxford, Hackney and Wycombe authority before them, Mayor Joe Anderson’s council has floated the idea, hoping it will go through, only to be overwhelmed by the public backlash against it. In doing so, the council has shown the potential of mass working class action to make changes in the world. Anderson and Liverpool Labour have given way on this one issue, because it risked jeopardising the rest of their austerity agenda.

Only yesterday morning, Liverpool IWW started a Facebook event page proposing a demonstration against the homeless fines. Within hours, scores had pledged they would attend, hundreds of people had been invited, and many were leaving comments on the page. Some raised their own demands, such as Joe Anderson paying back the £89,000 of public money he received from the council for legal advice on a private matter (he’d been sacked by a school he did no work for).

The homeless fines threatened to be a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’. When asked by the media for a reaction in response to Liverpool IWW’s press release, the council retreated a step. The council’s deployment of pro-cuts Councillor Rachael O’Byrne to the Facebook event page confirms this.

Liverpool Labour’s explanation for the whole affair beggars belief. According to Liverpool Confidential , “Anderson intervened to have the scheme scrapped after hearing about the proposals yesterday [Wednesday]”. Councillor Steve Munby went on, “The proposal was not a decision by the council cabinet, but was drawn up by officers following complaints from residents and the BID [Business Improvement District].”

If we are charitable to Anderson, it still looks devastatingly bad. He is the mayor of the city, he is paid a large salary, and he dines with the greedy business owners who were pushing this scheme on a very regular basis. If the official story is to be believed, he was somehow unaware of the council consultation nearly a month after it began on 9th October. He is therefore totally out of touch with the affairs of his own council, and totally incompetent.

The far more likely explanation, of course, is that Anderson, O’Byrne, Munby and colleagues are simply lying through their teeth.

Liverpool IWW will continue to fight for the interests of all working class people in the local area, so we can guarantee that this is not the last that Mayor Anderson and all his bloodsoaked poverty pimps will hear of us.

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Categories: Unions

Pres. McEllrath: ILWU will fight all attacks on safety, collective bargaining rights

ILWU - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 16:28

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Nov. 6, 2015ILWU Brothers and Sisters:

As you know, politicians have been publicly and inaccurately blaming congestion at the ports on those of us who work on the docks. They are opportunistically using industry-caused congestion as an excuse to introduce legislation that attacks workers’ collective bargaining rights, threatens our safety, wastes taxpayer dollars — and fails to address the actual root causes of congestion.

On November 4, two U.S. Representatives proposed misguided and dangerous amendments that would have forced unsafe speeds on the docks and hijacked the transportation bill to reexamine past labor talks.

Fortunately, with hard work from our Longshore representatives in D.C., our Legislative Action Committee, and a unified voice from longshore workers and our friends and allies, both amendments were defeated. The amendment proposed by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) was withdrawn for lack of votes, and the amendment proposed by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA) was defeated in a House floor vote.

While we prevailed in this round of attacks on our workplace safety and collective bargaining rights, politicians have already fired another round. Just hours after the Newhouse and Reichert amendments were defeated, two anti-union Congressmen from Washington and Oregon held a news conference and introduced another misguided bill called the “Economics Act.” At first glance, this bill seems to be a rehash of already rejected ideas. More details on the act will be forthcoming.

The ILWU will be educating members of Congress on the dangers of this bill and any others that arise. We need your support to defeat them. Listen to your local officers’ updates, and if you use social media, stay tuned to the ILWU Coast Longshore Division’s page on Facebook. If we issue an action alert, it’s important to respond immediately by contacting your elected officials in Congress and respectfully urging them to vote according to the action alert.

It will take continued hard work and vigilance to ensure that opportunistic politicians do not erode our rights. We have been fighting this fight since 1934, and we must continue to beat back these attacks. Thank you for your support to defeat the amendments, and stay tuned to make your voice heard again.


Robert McEllrath
International President

Categories: Unions

Industrial Worker, Fall 2015: 'In November We Remember'

IWW - Fri, 11/06/2015 - 09:05

In this issue:

* Legal victory over police repression of union activity & free speech in Boston
* Boycotts, pickets in support of Familias Unidas farm worker union intensify
* In November We Remember: Fellow Worker Ed Mann, Federico Arcos, Krazy Bill and incarcerated workers
....and more!

View and download the issue on Scribd.com.

Email iw@iww.org to order your copy today! 

Categories: Unions

Sex workers of Rhode Island, unite!

IWW - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 16:15

By Andrew Stewart - RIFuture.org, November 3, 2015

It is called the oldest line of work in the world and yet it is consistently denied legitimacy. But here in Rhode Island, where prostitution was legal from 1980 until 2009, some local sex workers are re-asserting their agency by organizing a labor union.

“You see women get raped, you see women get murdered,” said Madeira Darling, an organizer, whose name has been changed in this story to protect her identity. “Criminalization itself is violence. It means women can’t seek protection either from the law or from one another. Occasionally you will get guys who think they are in love with you stalking you. And police will often blame sex workers for violence even if they aren’t in criminalized industries.”

Madeira began work as an exotic dancer at age 19 in New York before becoming a dominatrix and relocating to Rhode Island, labor she continues to perform here. She and several of her colleagues are working towards something radically inclusive: the creation of a statewide sex worker labor union.

Interested in creating a truly industrial union, the group is open to allowing all sex workers join her in the effort, reaching out to strippers, escorts, camera/phone workers, porn stars, strip club bouncers, bar workers, masseurs/masseuses, actors, directors, and crew in adult films, and any other laborer in the industry, including the internet workers. As of this point she has contacted four other workers, but hopes that publicizing this effort my grow the ranks.

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Categories: Unions

Press Release: Liverpool IWW Calls For Demonstration Against Fines for the Homeless

IWW - Wed, 11/04/2015 - 16:07

By Admin - Liverpool IWW, November 4, 2015

Liverpool IWW condemns the council’s proposed “Public Space Protection Order”, under which the homeless could be fined up to £1,000 for the ‘crime’ of begging. We call on the people of Liverpool to show their opposition, by demonstrating at St Luke’s bombed out church a week on Saturday (14th November) from 12 noon, and signing the Change.org petition, which already had nearly 7,000 signatures at the time of going to press.

It is shocking that we find ourselves in a position where we need to argue for the right of homeless people not to be fined for their poverty, but thanks to greedy mayor Joe Anderson this is exactly the situation we are in. No-one begs for the fun of it. People beg out of desperation, because our society has badly let them down. £1,000 would be a huge amount of money for any working class person, but for a homeless person it is almost unimaginable, and could never be paid.

If Liverpool Labour wanted people to stop begging, they would stop implementing policies which massively increase poverty in our city. Instead, they aim to criminalise deprivation, in order to create a corporate paradise in Liverpool One, the Central ‘Business Improvement District’, and beyond. While Joe Anderson claims that his hands are tied by the Tory government when he makes spending cuts, it is his anti-homeless crusade which really shows what kind of man he is. Not content with using the police to starve homeless people out of a former bank a few months back, he now seeks to use crushing fines to force homeless people out of the city where they may well have family and friends.

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Categories: Unions

Union History

IBU - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 14:07
Categories: Unions

ILWU member leads effort to help others left behind on harbor area streets

ILWU - Thu, 10/29/2015 - 12:17

Local 23 member David Gonzalez. Photo by Slobodan Dimitriov

Local 26 member David Gonzales is leading an impressive but quiet effort with other volunteers in Wilmington who serve hundreds of meals each week to homeless and hungry people in the harbor area.

“I know what it’s like to be on the streets because I was there once myself,” says Gonzales, tracing his ordeal that began when he was physically and mentally abused almost daily by a stepfather “from the time I was 3 until I was 13.” When he was able to fight back, his mother said he’d have to leave the house, so he ended up in Banning Park. Gonzales tried to continue at school while he was living on the streets, but eventually dropped out and became involved with drugs and gangs.

“I can see now that the gang was important to me because I didn’t have a father, and it filled a need for a while,” he says. “Gang life gave me some security, but also filled my mind with distrust of anyone who wasn’t exactly like us. After years of “gangbanging” and coloring much of his skin with tattoos, he began to look for a way out of his dependency on drugs and the street life, but getting out was difficult. That’s where the union came in.

“I’m from a 4th generation Wilmington family here, so I knew how important the union was to the community, but I never realized that it would be the thing that helped me turn my life around.”

Gonzales found work as a guard with ILWU Local 26, providing security on the docks at the ports of LA and Long Beach. What he found was a surprising degree of support from co-workers who made a difference in his life.

“When my baby girl was just 9 months old, she had a life-threatening heart defect that required a dangerous surgery.” Gonzales said Local 26 union steward Mark Reyes offered to become her godfather, something “nobody had ever done for me and my family before.”

A similar act of kindness and compassion happened several years ago when he ended a difficult personal relationship and took full responsibility for his 7 children.

“It was holiday time and one of the union sisters at work, Christina Le Blanc who’s the Lead Sargent at Hanjin, asked me how I was planning to celebrate Christmas. I told her that it was going to be a little rough that year but that we’d be fine. She went out on her own and asked the other guards to pitch-in, and they made it possible for my kids to have something special during that difficult time.”

As the life of gang-banging and drug addiction was left behind, Gonzales says he now lives his life in recovery following a simple philosophy of what he calls “paying it forward.”

It started with an inspiration to buy boxes of frozen hamburger patties that he could grill for hungry people still stuck on the street. He quickly found others willing to help and says many of those volunteers were once living on the streets themselves during a difficult stretch. “We know what it’s like to be out there.”

Using Facebook, Gonzales has mustered a volunteer crew that prepares hundreds of sack lunches every Thursday, then distributes the meals to people living in the margins from Wilmington to LA’s Skid Row.

“We made 490 sack lunches last week and could have done a lot more but we just ran out of time,” he says, noting that groups and individuals are donating everything from bread and lunch meat, to their own labor. “We don’t have a formal non-profit group, but we do get the job done because everyone pitches-in to help the group that we call: ‘Heart of the Harbor/Helping Those in Need.’”

The group also helps with special needs or particular requests, such as one for diapers and wipes that was recently fulfilled with an online request to volunteers.

The biggest feeding effort so far took place on Saturday, October 3rd at Wilmington’s “Greenbelt Park,” between Watson and “L” Street. Volunteers began arriving at 7am to cook and prepare a hot lunch for hundreds from 12 noon onward. Among the many helpers were several of Gonzales’ seven children who are regular volunteers.

The first volunteer to join Gonzales was Nikki Fabela, Wilmington resident and daughter of Local 13’s Paul Fabel. “She was the first person who said she’d help me,” said Gonzales, “and her gesture of kindness is something I’ll never forget.”

“We know there are at least 8 people who have gotten off the streets and turned their lives around because of our help,” says Gonzales, who points to the turnaround in his own life as proof that dramatic changes are possible.

Gonzales says that their project is open to everyone and is not part of a church, but he says they do try to pause at some point during the busy volunteer times to give thanks and reflect on the pain and suffering faced by so many in the world – and how volunteers can make a difference with love and action.

Gonzales emphasizes that their group is eager to partner with individuals and like-minded organizations who can provide resources such as transitional housing, mental health services and recovery/rehabilitation support.

“My 17 years in the union have provided me with so much support that made my turnaround and recovery possible,” he says, adding that it has also expanded his perspectives, noting that he’s been able to meet people from all over the world and get beyond the small-minded thinking and bigotry that came with life in a gang. “I now see that all of us have so much in common, instead of focusing on difference like I used to, about how people looked or talked. I am truly grateful to all of my union brothers and sisters who have shown me so much solidarity and positivity during my years on the waterfront.”

Categories: Unions

PSR Fleet Memo for October 24 2015

IBU - Wed, 10/28/2015 - 08:45
Categories: Unions

Press Release

IBU - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 16:25
Categories: Unions

IBU Organizing

IBU - Mon, 10/26/2015 - 11:11
Workers win settlement, back pay from Alaska fuel distributor DUTCH HARBOR, Alaska (Oct. 26, 2015) — In March, The Stand

Concrete Examples of Non Labour Relations Board Unions: Part II

IWW - Sat, 10/24/2015 - 19:48

By the Admin Staff - Recomposition, October 8, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

This is the second part of a series of concrete examples and very brief summaries of organizations that have some component of direct action and a form of collective bargaining that operate outside the labour relations framework. The following are IWW projects that had aspects of Labour Relations Board campaigns to them but were essentially not oriented towards the LRB. You will also notice that these examples are American. One key difference in the American context is the presence of a longer and richer history of what is called “minority unionism” that is unions that seek to build majorities from minorities but are capable of acting as a part of the workforce that doesn’t always represent a majority pro-union group as verified by card check or a board election.

2. Corridor Campaigns: 

a). Montpelier Downtown Workers Union
Corridor campaigns were a popular model for IWW branches to experiment with in the early to mid 2000’s. This campaign started as a corridor campaign under the United Electrical Workers Union. An independent union with a history of Communist leadership. They were based on having small committees in small shops spread out over a geographic area with a similar constellation of businesses, usually retail corridors.

This campaign started under the sponsorship of a workers centre run by the UE and ran for a few years. One of the more innovative elements of this campaign was the grievance committee combined with stewards that were assigned to a geographic area. Non members were told of the presence of a stewards in their area and if they had problems to go the member of the MDWU who would help them resolve problems. They also had a grievance committee that would pool resources to tackle bigger tougher problems.

Eventually the UE tried to push it to sign more contracts, as the campaign was failing they signed on with the IWW but it continued it’s decline and folded.

Advantages: Multiple committees in multiple shops. Geographic stewards, grievance committee. Had a clear way to address smaller concerns that didn’t warrant mass industrial action but weren’t simply individual gripes either.

Disadvantages: Pressure from business union sponsor to go for contracts. Small shops prone to high turnover, going public in small shops allows the boss to charm neutrals and organise anti union elements easily.

b). South Street Workers Union
South Street was a campaign in a retail corridor in Philadelphia started by the IWW branch there. It had multiple committees in multiple small shops. They agitated around workplace issues as well as workers issues off the job including a campaign around transit fares. The campaign lasted a number of years and built up the branch but eventually folded.

Advantages: Maintained a function organisation between small multiple shops over a few years. Agitated around issues in the community and mobilised the community around non workplace demands as well as making some small gains in shops.

Disadvantages: High turnover wore the campaign down.

3. The IWW and Bike Couriers:

There is very little documentation that is easy to track down and I have a few articles I intend to put online but the Bike Courier campaigns of the early 2000s had a tremendous influence on the development of Direct Unionism or Solidarity Unionism. The key organisers in these campaigns had a huge impact on the IWW and played a central role in the transition from being mostly a radical labour history club to a small fighting union with a different program from the rest of the labour movement. The longest running and most high profile campaign was in Chicago where the IWW maintained a presence in the courier industry for ten years. They had committees spanning multiple shops and won grievances against employers as well as mounting campaigns against building management companies to make their buildings more accessible to the couriers that served their tenants.

There were also bike courier committees in Portland, New York, Boston and San Francisco to name a few others.

Advantages: Extremely flexible organisations, took on issues on and off the job. Well developed conception of non contractual unionism. Multiple campaigns in multiple shops in Chicago. Also very structured and formal in Portland and Chicago, clear meeting agendas, rules of order and elected officers.

Disadvantages: Never broke out of the bike courier sub culture in a meaningful way. Very oriented towards a largely young and urban counter culture workforce.

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Categories: Unions


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